F1 Business Diary 2016: The Brazilian Grand Prix

Hamilton kept the title race alive with a third successive victory

F1 Business Diary 2016: The Brazilian Grand Prix

After appearing all but over following Nico Rosberg's win in Japan, the race for the Formula One driver's world title remains just about alive after Lewis Hamilton recorded a third successive victory in Brazil to move to within 12 points of his Mercedes team mate and rival.

The championship will now go down to the final race in Abu Dhabi on 27th November, where regardless of Hamilton’s finish any podium position for Rosberg will secure him the title, denying the Briton a famous hat-trick.

The race took place under remarkable weather conditions, with Hamilton at one point observing that he couldn't see anything more than the lights on the safety car – which was on the track for seven of the race's 71 laps – in front of him.

 

End of an era?

With Liberty Media's takeover of Formula One possibly signalling the exit from the sport of Formula One Group chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, and Williams team principal Sir Frank Williams taking a step back due to health issues, it feels as though an era in Formula One is drawing to a close.

The trend continued this week with rumours swirling that a Chinese bid of UK£1.65 billion (US$2 billion) had been submitted for the McLaren team, a development that would likely spell the end for one of the sport's most dominating and divisive figures, Ron Dennis.

The chief executive and chairman of the McLaren Group, Dennis has an association with the team going back to the early 1980s, in which time he has seen world championships won for McLaren by drivers Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Häkkinen and Lewis Hamilton.

The Chinese bid speculation comes amid a high-profile court case in which Dennis is seeking an injunction to prevent a move to place him on gardening leave until the end of his contract in January, with McLaren shareholders seeking to oust him from his role as chief executive. Dennis presently owns 25 per cent of the group, with another 25 per cent owned by his business partner Mansour Ojjeh and the remaining 50 per cent held by a Bahraini sovereign wealth fund.

Top Trumps

During a week in which the news was dominated by a single story, it was inevitable that the media would seek the valued opinions of the Formula One drivers' grid on Donald Trump's surprise US election victory, with the most apposite summation coming from defending champion Hamilton.

"To be honest, I don't think either candidate was particularly mega," said the Briton, whose post-Formula One career in political commentary looks all but assured.

While the wider sports world's response to the new president-elect has been muted at best, with bookmakers lengthening the odds on Los Angeles' chances of hosting the 2024 Olympics in the aftermath of the election results, the implications for Formula One will only become clearer with time. Ecclestone had previously endorsed Trump, and the sport's commercial model and big business approach seem perfectly suited to Trump's Art of the Deal modus operandi. 'The Donald' is also a known motorsport fan, having been photographed on several occasions at Indycar and Nascar races.

Hawked off

Immediately feeling the implications of Trump's victory was sunglasses brand Hawkers, which was dropped as a sponsor by Force India driver Sergio Perez following a spectacularly misjudged missive on social media.

Perez had been understandably offended by infamous comments made about his countrymen by Trump at the beginning of his presidential campaign, and the Mexican was understandably offended further when a tweet from his own sponsor suggested that Mexicans wear Hawkers products to ‘hide their crying eyes’ when Trump's proposed wall between Mexico and the USA is built.

‘What a bad commentary. Today I am ending my relations with @HawkerMX,’ said Perez on his own Twitter account in reply. ‘I will never let anyone laugh at my country.’

For its part, Hawkers deleted the offending tweet and admitted it had made a ‘serious error’. The company's contrition was not enough to smooth over relations with Perez, however, who confirmed in São Paulo that he had "split with the brand".

Time trial

Ahead of his home Grand Prix, Brazilian Formula One driver Felipe Nasr agreed a personal endorsement deal with luxury watch and fashion brand Felio Siby. The company will create a new model of watch for the 24-year-old Sauber driver. The deal is a bright spot in what has been a disappointing season for Nasr, who picked up his first points of the season on familiar territory this weekend with a ninth-placed finish at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.